A review by Mr. J (Follow on twitter @Dear_ole_UncleJ)
Finally. After the months of waiting Gotham has finally aired. But we ask ourselves, can we truly divorce ourselves from the comic and accept what TV feels is acceptable to us? There may be a few spoilers in this review and I apologize in advance. However, do not read past this point and no one will be upset. Starting, now.
If you have read past this part of my review, then you accept all responsibility of hwt you are going to read. Fair enough.
The first concern I had when I heard that Gotham would become a television series is the cast. These are not the type of characters you can just pick a random Johnny Hancock actor to be. The cast needs to live and breathe their character to fully portray them. Look at Heath Ledger. He literally became the Joker. And in the end, it destroyed him. Anthony Hopkins had to go into counselling everytime he played Hannibal because of the intensity that Hannibal Lecture took to portray.
Maybe this is not needed for Bruce Wayne, but Penguin? Poison Ivy? Ridder? Very complex characters. They need to be executed perfectly if you want a fan base of the show. The Batman franchise has taken a lot of scrutiny over the years for poor casting whether if it was Jim Carrey as Riddler or even Arnie as Mr. Freeze. That is a movie setting, and you have better odds of making back the money put into it. But a TV show? You cannot afford misses. The show could be pulled right after the pilot.
Everyone who is anyone, knows the story of The Batman. Parents are dead. Young boy promises justice. The end. Nothing further needed. But Gotham is not about Batman, it is about Lt Gordon (Eventually Commissioner). What I found troubling about this pilot that there was very little character development. Ya sure, you want to establish everyone and you did. You see Catwoman… erm.. Girl.. Riddler, Poison Ivy.. erm.. Girl and Penguin. But very little to Gordon. Now, by no means am I an expert on Batman. I have read 15 - 20 Graphic novels, 100’s of comics and have religiously watched all the Batman films (Nolan’s trilogy being the best IMO), but even with all that, I cannot attest that I know it all. But I am a big enough fan to know that things are not going as planned.
The show primarily focused around Detective Bullock and Gordon. With some dry humor and some animosity but they are purposely set to become dependant on each other. But what brings anyone together is always an unforeseen death in the Wayne Family. Spoiler! Who knew?! HIS PARENTS ARE DEAD!?!? /ragequit
Its not like we did not know this was happening, but in the show it just kind of just happened. No build up. Nothing. That was poorly executed. The storyline for this specific episode was pretty straightforward but I felt myself losing interest constantly. The episode probably could have been summed up in less than 30 minutes and it felt like the plotline was just being stretched out to meet airtime requirements.
The cast was not necessarily an issue. Even tho that Jada Pinkett’s character (Fish Mooney, HA, what a name, did some manatee’s pick this out?) was added into the show as a mid level associate for the Falcone mob family. Is the character needed? Not really. Could the episode lived without her? Most likely. My 2 key moments of the episode were the introductions of Edward Nigma (Riddler) and Oswald Cobblepott (Penguin). The characters were not blatant in the roles they are going to become. Especially if you have never heard of Batman (which I highly doubt), they would be just regular characters with little rhyme or reason to their existence. Which is absolutely fine. The actors portrayed them very well and if the proper script comes their way, they can be a huge piece to the Gotham puzzle in later seasons.
Only 1 flaw comes to introducing so many characters, so quickly. There is no shock value in future episodes. Batman has a giant laundry list of D list villains but my worry is that they will introduce so many key Batman villains it leaves no imagination to the future of the show. It has already been hinted that Scarecrow, Mr. Freeze and even the Clown Prince of Crime, The Joker will be in this season. But why? Spend the first season explaining the Falcone crime family and have brief appearances of the established characters to keep it fresh. If you are not sure what to do, watch Arrow. Beautifully written and there was not an episode that did not surprise me. Keep The Joker for when Bruce Wayne is alot older.
And finally, Gordon and Bullock were perfectly casted. Lets not get excited yet, it is only the first episode and Gordon does not have a moustache. However, with a premiere, I give this only a 7/10. I did expect a lot more, which is the problem. The build up was great but I did feel very let down by the episode. Keep an eye out for the podcast!
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